A dedicated coroner will be appointed as part of an important $3.8 million investment in the 2021-22 ACT Budget to strengthen the delivery of justice to the community. Funding will also be provided for an additional Special Magistrate in 2021-22 to support to help reduce court waiting lists particularly in criminal cases.
The funding includes:
- $3.2 million over four years for a dedicated Coroner and support staff.
- $432,000 in 2021-22 for a full-time Special Magistrate and support staff to reduce a backlog of cases that are mainly criminal matters.
- $206,000 in 2021-22 to support additional positions within the Director of Public Prosecutions and Legal Aid.
This Budget announcement fulfils a commitment in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement between ACT Greens and ACT Labor.
As stated by Chief Minister and Treasurer, Andrew Barr:
“This additional resourcing will build the court’s capacity and will help victims and their families by ensuring timely access to justice. Establishing a dedicated Coroner in the ACT will be a significant change to current practice where eight different magistrates undertake coronial matters as part of their regular, heavy workloads.
“A dedicated coroner can better understand and meet the needs of the bereaved families and friends involved in inquests by providing better support and reducing the likelihood of them suffering more trauma through a protracted coronial process.”
As stated by Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury:
“The pain felt by families who have lost a loved one to an unexpected death should not have to endure an agonising, and quite frankly, traumatic wait for a coronial inquiry. Over the past 12 months since I was appointed ACT Attorney-General, I have listened to the families who’ve been involved in coronial matters in the ACT and agree that improvements are needed.
“This is why the ACT Greens made a commitment to appoint a dedicated full time coroner at the 2020 ACT Election.
“Having a dedicated coroner will reduce delays for bereaved family, friends and witnesses involved in inquests, and allow a more consistent, restorative approach to coronial proceedings. As well as reducing the wait times for coronial cases to be resolved, a dedicated coroner will ensure families and friends are better supported throughout the difficult process. This is what our commitment to doing justice differently looks like.
“I would like to acknowledge the dozens of families that I have spoken to in the past 12 months, in particular the dedicated advocacy by the Coronial Reform Group and Alliance for Coronial Reform, who have never let up in showing why we need this reform. This is a reform that we hope will benefit families for years to come.”
As stated by Chief Magistrate, Lorraine Walker:
“The Chief Magistrate welcomes the government’s commitment to funding for a dedicated coroner. This will provide an opportunity to develop a more structured and streamlined approach to the jurisdiction, with an anticipated improvement in efficiency. It will also allow for the important therapeutic and public safety functions provided for in legislation to be developed in a manner consistent with current best practice.”